Employers pressuring staff to come to work with covid

zed4

Well-known Member
Hi,

Does anyone have any experience with this? My partner has gone into work today and everyone in her small office, except her and one other, has tested positive for covid, and is at work. They're all sick, and testing positive, but the employer has said they need to come into work, as it's no longer a legal requirement to stay home.

As far as I can see, it is no longer a legal requirement, but it's still public health guidelines to stay home if you're unwell and testing positive, and employers have a duty to make sure the workplace is safe.

My partner walked out the office to work in a different area of the building, but she's unable to do her job to the fullest from there and as a result is being told she should stay in the office.

Surely this isn't right? I am telling her to speak to HR or their union rep (assuming they have one), but she's reluctant to. But she's very upset about being put in danger. She had covid last year and was very unwell from it, so she's rightly very nervous about catching it again.

Many thanks.
 

Indiana Jones

Moderator
My work place is no longer requiring people to test negative before they come back due to the general consensus now being that it’s far more mild, presents mostly cold like symptoms and is spreading like wild fire so there is no avoiding it.

Can’t say I agree with their decision and after testing positive on Saturday I haven’t yet gone back even though all I have now is a bit of a sore throat and congestion, would feel far better going back once I know I am not spreading it around to others some of who might not fair as well as I have.

With there no longer being a legal requirement I am sure many businesses will just want maximum productivity and don’t care if someone has “a cold” as that no reason not to be in doing their job.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Unfortunately the guidance is "try" and stay at home. Work from home "if you can". No real guidance as to what to do if you can't work from home. So unless you have a fever and are too sick to work, there is no reason an employer can't ask you to either come in or take it as holiday. :(
 

richp007

Distinguished Member
Sorry to hear about your situation, however this is what living with Covid looks like. And many seem to be quite happy about it. The guidance is really just the Covid pirate code now.

There to dot the i's etc, and push all responsibility onto everyone else. The problem is like in your case that's not going to always translate to being beneficial to an individual, or even an employer. Or other employees neither.
 

CWT1965

Banned
We need to change the mindset re covid, it is not 2020 any more, covid is as potent as the common cold if you have done the responsible thing and got jabbed. If someone at work has a cold would people be demanding HR/UNIONS got involved? no, course not

Covid is not the bogeyman unless you are unjabbed, obese etc, there should not be a fear of covid any more, its not rational, even the 95yo Queen caught it and was fine
 

Maeght

Distinguished Member
We need to change the mindset re covid, it is not 2020 any more, covid is as potent as the common cold if you have done the responsible thing and got jabbed. If someone at work has a cold would people be demanding HR/UNIONS got involved? no, course not

Covid is not the bogeyman unless you are unjabbed, obese etc, there should not be a fear of covid any more, its not rational, even the 95yo Queen caught it and was fine
Perhaps read this article for a different take on things

Why is the UK seeing near-record Covid cases? We still believe the three big myths about Omicron | Christina Pagel
 

Mainly Lurking

Distinguished Member
We need to change the mindset re covid, it is not 2020 any more, covid is as potent as the common cold if you have done the responsible thing and got jabbed. If someone at work has a cold would people be demanding HR/UNIONS got involved? no, course not

Covid is not the bogeyman unless you are unjabbed, obese etc, there should not be a fear of covid any more, its not rational, even the 95yo Queen caught it and was fine
I'm sorry but you're talking bollocks.
My OH runs his own business but is classed as CV, he's had all 3 jabs and "just" a chest infection after manflu has almost had him in hospital the other week so don't say it's nothing to worry about.
I'm lucky in that I get full pay if off sick, am part of a union and a mouthy cow so none of my team will come in with cold symptoms and neither will I but many people will be forced in to work with Covid and then what about the CV/CEV etc. either in that workplace or at the homes of the other workers
The whole culture of people going into work when ill, spreading their germs to everyone else needs to stop but to do that employers and sick pay policies and pay needs to change. To my mind 1 person being off sick for a couple of days is far less damaging to productivity than half a dozen people being off.
 
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Miss Mandy

Moderator
The whole culture of people going into work when ill, spreading their germs to everyone else needs to stop but to do that employers and sick pay policies and pay needs to change. To my mind 1 person being off sick for a couple of days is far less damaging to productivity than half a dozen people being off.

Absolutely this and it’s not specifically a covid problem. We lose far too many days to sickness because people come into work when they’re unwell and pass things on to their colleagues. This costs the company time and money and adds a burden to the NHS that could be reduced.
Our sick pay policies in the uk are really poor which forces people to work when they are unwell. This particularly hits the low earners who can’t afford days off sick because they’re often not paid for them. They are also often the most at risk of needing hospital treatment when ill. SSP is just £96 a week and only paid after day 4 which is disgraceful in my opinion.
 

richp007

Distinguished Member
Covid has brought all this sick business to the fore, and it should have been a consideration going forward as part of how we manage living with Covid. However as per usual it's too much effort so we'll just carry on the way we were - but now of course with Covid in the mix as well.

There's no escaping how risible our sick pay arrangements are, and it's no doubt cost us dear during the pandemic. Goodness knows how many infections we could have prevented, especially before Omicron. And some deaths as well I'm sure.

Now it'll continue being a blight.
 

The Bonobo

Well-known Member
Absolutely this and it’s not specifically a covid problem. We lose far too many days to sickness because people come into work when they’re unwell and pass things on to their colleagues. This costs the company time and money and adds a burden to the NHS that could be reduced.
Our sick pay policies in the uk are really poor which forces people to work when they are unwell. This particularly hits the low earners who can’t afford days off sick because they’re often not paid for them. They are also often the most at risk of needing hospital treatment when ill. SSP is just £96 a week and only paid after day 4 which is disgraceful in my opinion.
Agree. I was under the impression workers were supposed to avoid going to work sick, especially when it's contagious. As they just cause others to get sick including via traveling if that involves interaction with others.

Not specifically just for covid. Also for flu or colds. Seems odd then to hear that it's just like a cold (leaving aside that it isn't in the full sense) so just go to work, as if that's what you are supposed to do with literal colds. Maybe I missed a memo. 🤷 Or maybe getting "back to normal" means ignoring everything we've learned about this issue and even from well before covid. Oh well, let's just get back to stupidity.

Fair point on sick pay though and unreasonable bosses adds another layer. How great it is to see that one possible positive from this, having more sensible attitudes and behaviours regarding spreading viruses about, has gone nowhere. Just like other measures like better hand hygiene will presumably be discarded rather than become simple ways to improve health. Small silver linings we can take from this overall awful situation? Nah let's just jump straight backwards. 🙄
 

Judge Mental

Well-known Member
Agree. I was under the impression workers were supposed to avoid going to work sick, especially when it's contagious. As they just cause others to get sick including via traveling if that involves interaction with others.

Not specifically just for covid. Also for flu or colds. Seems odd then to hear that it's just like a cold (leaving aside that it isn't in the full sense) so just go to work, as if that's what you are supposed to do with literal colds. Maybe I missed a memo. 🤷 Or maybe getting "back to normal" means ignoring everything we've learned about this issue and even from well before covid. Oh well, let's just get back to stupidity.

Fair point on sick pay though and unreasonable bosses adds another layer. How great it is to see that one possible positive from this, having more sensible attitudes and behaviours regarding spreading viruses about, has gone nowhere. Just like other measures like better hand hygiene will presumably be discarded rather than become simple ways to improve health. Small silver linings we can take from this overall awful situation? Nah let's just jump straight backwards. 🙄
This is going to take a massive cultural shift. All through my working life there was a very strong pressure to attend work even if you were Ill. Taking time off was heavily frowned upon and disciplined, and saying you wanted to prevent others getting I’ll would be seen as a ridiculous excuse. As a manager you were expected to stamp hard on those who phoned in sick more than once a year. Working from home was seen as a skivey perk that managers sometimes allowed themselves but would not trust others to do.
 

Nightrain

Well-known Member
Absolutely this and it’s not specifically a covid problem. We lose far too many days to sickness because people come into work when they’re unwell and pass things on to their colleagues. This costs the company time and money and adds a burden to the NHS that could be reduced.
Our sick pay policies in the uk are really poor which forces people to work when they are unwell. This particularly hits the low earners who can’t afford days off sick because they’re often not paid for them. They are also often the most at risk of needing hospital treatment when ill. SSP is just £96 a week and only paid after day 4 which is disgraceful in my opinion.
Yep this is far beyond a Covid problem and rather a cultural "stiff upper lip" combined with pitiful economic support for sickness.

I don't want to give the OP any specific advice on this as I'm not a legal mind but what I will say is you won't see SSP and this culture tackled under a Tory government.
 

The Bonobo

Well-known Member
This is going to take a massive cultural shift. All through my working life there was a very strong pressure to attend work even if you were Ill. Taking time off was heavily frowned upon and disciplined, and saying you wanted to prevent others getting I’ll would be seen as a ridiculous excuse. As a manager you were expected to stamp hard on those who phoned in sick more than once a year. Working from home was seen as a skivey perk that managers sometimes allowed themselves but would not trust others to do.
Yes all good points. I have a cold right now (not covid based on testing) but am lucky that in my job working from home has always been a common thing. I've still been working but had to zoom in for some meetings where others are there in person. I explained it was a cold but everyone was fine and accepted it was better not to spread it about.

I feel bad for the folk involved with the OP but sadly this is inevitable when guidance becomes about "trying" whatever that means. I had hoped the magnitude of the pandemic would help with cultural shifts but seems not and it's still that some bosses are reasonable and some not at all.
 

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
I feel bad for the folk involved with the OP but sadly this is inevitable when guidance becomes about "trying" whatever that means. I had hoped the magnitude of the pandemic would help with cultural shifts but seems not and it's still that some bosses are reasonable and some not at all.
Unless it is law, then no one will do it. Especially some employers who don't give a crap about their staff. In the OP's case, are people not able to call in sick if you are feeling poorly? Or is it one of those offices where people are forced tocome in with horrendous colds and spread them to everyone else, rather than staying off for a day or two.
 

lynx

Senior Moderator
HASWA sec 2 (1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
Management regs 1992 sec 3 1(a) The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992
Covid risk assesements must be carried out and they are required to be suitable and sufficient.

Govt info published 24/02; "Offices, factories and labs - Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance - GOV.UK ...

People who test positive for COVID-19 should continue to stay at home and avoid contact with other people".

Depending on the industry report to HSE or more likely local authority environmental health dept.
 
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rustybin

Distinguished Member
I agree that there is immense pressure on some people to work whilst ill, and that support for those with health issues is risible. I'm not sure what the solution is though, when you have a small minority of people who take the mickey.
 

lynx

Senior Moderator
I agree that there is immense pressure on some people to work whilst ill, and that support for those with health issues is risible. I'm not sure what the solution is though, when you have a small minority of people who take the mickey.
Prosecute the employer, that will focus their attention.
First step though, the authority issues an improvement notice, that should be job done.
 

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